Ethiopian Welo Opal and Black Seed Beads


This 23 inch necklace is made of glass seed beads and a string of graduated Welo Opal (Ethiopian Fire Opal) beads. The necklace is stung in fine Tiger-tail beading wire, and finished with a lobster-claw clasp.

Welo opals come from mines in the Welo district in in the Ethiopian high-lands. The rough gems began appearing in 2008. Opal is a hard mineral, so it can be cut into faceted beads and polished into cabochons. Welo opals are composed of hydrophane silica, the stones will absorb water out of the air. This has two effects: a) the weight of a Welo opal depends on the humidity, and b) a Welo opal does not dry out and develop a craze over time like an Australian opal. (N.B.: Both kinds of opal are just plain purely gorgeous, I just can’t afford to indulge in either one very often….)

This particular strand of Welo Opal is predominately honey yellow, with orange and red, and flashes of green and sky-blue. The beads range in size from a little over 2.5mm, on the ends of the strand, to 7mm in the center. The black seed beads between the opals are 11/0’s, and 11/0 and 8/0 beads make up the ‘chain’ on either side.

I bought this strand of Welo at a bead show three years ago with the intention of doing something with them, once I got tired of looking at then on the cork-board in my work area, I still haven’t gotten tired of them, but now the Opals are in a necklace rather than simply strung on fishing line. I have something to put into the shop, and, until until the necklace sells, I can still look at the opals.

Maybe I will pick up some more Welo this summer, but. (I am not allowed to go to gem and bead shows any more without an adult escort. I have a bad case of the ‘OOO, Shiney!’s when exposed to pretty rocks.)